You’re familiar with the CIA coup in Iran. But have you heard of...
The Russian Connection?

August 18, 1953 — Joseph L. Pearlman (INS)

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | December 3, 2015                    

The 1953 coup in Iran

The Soviet reaction to the August 19, 1953 overthrow of Premier Mohammad Mossadegh in neighboring Iran was, according to reports, instantaneous.

Certain Russian newspapers like Pravda pointed the finger at America, charging that Yankee imperialists were behind the violent putsch in Tehran. Naturally, the U.S. categorically denied it at the time, and some in the press helpfully piled on by ridiculing the accusation.

Yet before the dirty Commies ever introduced their outlandish theory, at least one member of the American media had made an identical (inverse) allegation—with an even nervier twist.

Given the hasty, panicked departure of the young Shah to Rome after the initial coup attempt on August 16th flopped badly, the general conclusion was that Dr. Mossadegh was now firmly in control.

That’s when someone from the International News Service (INS) postulated his own conspiracy theory: that Mossadegh’s apparent victory over the royalists must have had some connection to the Kremlin. The added twist was that this idea was actually the suspicion of many “puzzled” Iranians, who weren’t having any simplistic “black-and-white explanations” for the situation.

How could INS writer Joseph L. Pearlman have known this, sitting at his desk writing “interpretative” wire reports in New York or wherever? Other than posing the question, he referenced zero sources to help verify the matter.

What is clear is that Pearlman was no impartial observer, openly revealing his distaste for the “cunning” Mossadegh in a snooty August 20th piece. “Crafty old Mohammed Mossadegh has been dumped on the heap reserved for discarded dictators”, he crowed directly after the second, successful coup attempt.

Joseph L. Pearlman later transferred to United Press International some time after its May 24, 1958 merger with INS. After a brief illness, on December 16, 1959, the newsman of nearly 25 years died at age 45, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Had he lived a bit longer, Pearlman might have eventually discovered what is now common knowledge—that the tragic events of August 1953 in Iran have no known Red fingerprints, but traces of Red, White and Blue have been collected, analyzed and positively confirmed.

Shah’s Flight Strengthens Hand
Of Soviet In Iranian Situation

International News Service Foreign Writer

The hand of the Communists in Iran has been strengthened considerably by the flight of the Shah, by accident or design.

Not all Iranians accept the black-and-white explanations offered concerning the attempted coup to remove Premier Mossadegh, and his cunning counter-stroke. Some Iranians are wondering: did Moscow have anything to do with the Tehran upheaval?

Whether Moscow was just a wide-eyed bystander, or played a more active role, is the secret of Soviet Ambassador Anatole Lavrentiev. [Anatoly Lavrentiev] In any event, the blow against the Shah has brought into interesting focus some events that occurred long before the weekend crisis.

Iranians Puzzled

Iranians are still puzzled over the Communist Tudeh Party’s predictions that the coup would be attempted. The prediction, aired for some time, contained details which surprisingly enough were largely confirmed, including those involving timing. The flight of the Shah has enhanced the power of the Tudeh, since its fortunes strangely enough, depend on those of the aged Mossadegh.

Mossadegh is not a Communist supporter, but has been the recipient of Red help—particularly in the riotous street demonstrations for which Tehran has become famous—when the chips were down. Tudeh figures—rightly or wrongly—it has a stake in Mossadegh’s removal of the last big major obstacle in the way of rise to absolute power, since it has given its blessing when it counted to Mossadegh’s fight to stay in power. It expects the favor to be returned. Tudeh also spearheaded the fight against the throne to initial victory, a cohesive force in itself.

Russia began wooing oil-rich Iran some time ago. Last month, the Kremlin sent Ambassador Lavrentiev to his new Tehran post as an agreement was made with Mossadegh’s government to form a mixed commission in an attempt to settle outstanding territorial and financial issues. Lavrentiev had some tough jobs previously, notably in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Bucharest. His present assignment comes at a time when Russia sees an opportunity to step into the still-sizzling hassle between Iran and Britain over oil nationalization—a fight that has led Iran to the brink of bankruptcy.

Mossadegh’s acquisition of his new power has cleared the decks for the Iranian-Russian talks. These concern Iran’s claim to a sizable amount of gold for services rendered to Soviet troops during the last war, and frontier disputes involving almost a score of places on the Soviet-Iranian frontier. Iran also would like to revise a 1921 treaty entered into with the Soviet government permitting the entry of Russian troops in the event Iran is made into an attack base against Russia.

Mossadegh’s future attitude toward Tudeh, which legally is outlawed, and the progress of the Iranian-Soviet talks, may provide the clues the Western world has been waiting for regarding Iran’s future intentions.

“If I sit silently, I have sinned”: A guiding principle
The untold story behind Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's famous quote “If I sit silently, I have sinned”


Related links:

Soviets Object to U.S. Military Aid To Iran (May 1952 Letter)

“The Highest Compliment” | Who’s Behind This Nervy Letter After 1953 Coup in Iran?

Iran Charges Russian Plot | Associated Press, November 4, 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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